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CGI lights up Winston

Robotics guru bows SW Digital

With more Hollywood films relying on special effects, Stan Winston, the guru behind the animatronic robots and dinosaurs of the “Terminator” and “Jurassic Park” franchises, is launching a CGI division.

SW Digital will offer an array of digital effects services, initially for mid- to low-budget productions. Division, based out of Stan Winston Prods.’ Van Nuys, Calif., facilities, is expected to ramp up its staff as work flows into the studio.

Winston’s no stranger to digital effects, having co-founded effects studio Digital Domain, which specializes in computer-generated visuals.

However, Winston’s own facility is best known for designing and creating animatronic creatures and extensive makeup effects for pics, including the three “Terminator” and “Jurassic Park” installments, as well as “A.I. Artificial Intelligence,” “Aliens,” “Edward Scissorhands,” “Batman Returns,” “Congo,” “Interview With the Vampire” and the “Predator” actioners. Winston’s currently at work on Tim Burton’s “Big Fish” at Columbia.

He has won four Oscars, for his work on “Jurassic Park,” “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” and “Aliens.”

With CGI improving the look of lifelike digital creatures on the big-screen, and with his own creations also being enhanced with computers, Winston felt the need to expand and offer filmmakers a digital division.

“Most of what we historically have done now has a digital component to it, so it made sense to create SW Digital,” Winston said. “We will continue to collaborate with visual effects studios we’ve worked with in the past. But now clients also have a choice of solutions from makeup effects, animatronics, puppet effects and digital effects available to them independently or combined under the same roof. We look forward to the collaboration between departments at the studio.”

Expansion also is driven in part by Winston’s increased interest in producing his own pics with modest-sized budgets. Most recently he produced the horror pic “Wrong Turn” together with New Regency Prods., Summit Entertainment and Constantin Films.

In 2001, Winston co-produced “Creature Features,” a series updated versions of five Sam Arkoff classic 1950s horror and sci-fi movies, created for cablers Cinemax and HBO.

“When we formed the production company five years ago, we had to start thinking about how to service our own projects and how to deliver the same quality within a tighter budget,” Winston said. “By integrating computer graphics, we’ve streamlined our creative and technical processes, and now we can make the smallest productions look like the biggest, making us accessible to creative filmmakers with great ideas, regardless of their fiscal limitations.”

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